How and when to use French articles
Published on October 28, 2021 / Updated by Angéline Gras-Kresse on January 16, 2024
Bonjour tout le monde ! Comment ça va ?
Today, we’re talking about articles.
In French, nouns are always preceded by an article or a determiner. Articles and nouns form a unit; they must always agree with the noun, just like adjectives do. You will never find a masculine article with a feminine noun. For each type of article, there will be a minimum of three (sometimes four) forms. Don’t worry, they are not difficult to remember and I’m sure you’ve encountered them before in simple sentences!
The article indicates the gender of the noun (masculine or feminine) and its quantity (singular or plural). There are three types of articles that we will explain here: indefinite articles, definite articles, and partitive articles.
Keep reading to find out when to use definite and indefinite articles and why. Even though they are such small words, they are very important.
The indefinite articles (articles indéfinis) are:
“Un” and “une” would translate to “a” in English. And “des” is similar to the English “some”.
Let’s see how these articles can influence nouns:
As you can see, in the singular form, you have to make sure the article is adjusted to the gender of the noun. In the plural form, it will always be “des”.
Let’s take a look at some sentences now:
Un invité est arrivé: A guest has arrived
Je mange une glace: I eat an ice cream
Il achète des vestes: He is buying some jackets
The definite articles (articles définis) in French are:
|the sea lion
|silent h singular
Definite articles would translate to “the” in English.
They are used:
Fun fact! All the colors in French are masculine, so you will say le bleu, le rouge or le vert.
The partitive articles (articles partitifs) are used to talk about an undetermined amount of something. It is formed with the preposition “de” and an article.
|de + le
|de + la
|de + les
We use them:
Now, you know all about indefinite, definite and partitive articles! The biggest difference between indefinite and definite articles is how you refer to something. Is it something specific? (definite articles!) Or something more general? (indefinite articles!). To practice using partitive articles, try to use them when talking about food (not so hard, right?). You are always one step away from eating the whole cake (le gâteau) or just some of it (du gâteau)!